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Sunday 4 December 2016

'Greatest ballerina' Plisetskaya dies aged 89

death

Maya Plisetskaya, a star of Russia's Bolshoi ballet who overcame a legacy of Stalinist oppression to redefine her art and be feted as the greatest ballerina of her generation, has died in Germany aged 89.

Plisetskaya died of a heart attack in Munich, Russian media reported, citing the director of the Bolshoi theatre Vladimir Urin. Her death was "a huge loss not only for Russian culture, but also for the whole world of ballet", he said.

Plisetskaya had lived since 1991 in Munich, where she moved with her husband, composer Rodion Shedrin, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In a career spanning six decades, she gained international fame for a fiery, emotional style that contrasted with the more demure performances traditionally expected of ballerinas.

enemies

Under Joseph Stalin her family were branded "enemies of the people", her father falling victim in 1938 to one of the regime's bloody purges while her mother was sentenced to several years in a labour camp.

Plisetskaya was also disadvantaged by growing up Jewish at a time in the late 1940s and early 1950s when the Soviet leader was gripped with paranoia about imaginary 'Zionist' plots.

"Endless suffering and humiliation fill my memory," she wrote in 2001.

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